|Updated: 11/01/2012 11:34 am
||Published: 10/31/2012 10:02 am
Hearings for five employees of a Tulsa megachurch accused of waiting more than two weeks to report the alleged rape of a 13-year-old girl have been rescheduled.
Victory Christian Center employees John Daugherty, Charica Daugherty, Paul Willemstein, Anna George and Harold "Frank" Sullivan, face allegations that they didn't report the complaint in a timely manner.
Prosecutors say the girl told employees Aug. 15 she had been raped, but police weren't notified until Aug. 30
The Tulsa County District Attorney's office has filed a response to reject a motion to dismiss charges against two of five Victory Christian Center workers accused of failing to report child abuse.
John and Charica Daugherty, along with three other VCC employees, are accused of waiting two weeks to report the rape to police. John and Charica Daugherty filed a motion to have the misdemeanor charges dismissed because no one in the case was charged with 'child abuse.'
On Monday, Chris Denman, a former VCC worker, pleaded guilty to first-degree rape, forcible oral sodomy of a child, lewd molestation, lewd proposal to a child and two counts of using a computer to facilitate a sex crime. Court records show he confessed to assaulting a 13-year old in a church stairwell and molesting a 15-year old.
Another former Victory employee, 23-year-old Israel Castillo, is charged with making a lewd proposal to a 15-year-old girl and using a computer to commit a sex crime.
The DA's motion alleges John and Charica Daugherty discussed the situation with Pastor Sharon Daugherty on August 24th. They also say during the police investigation Charica Daugherty admitted they "probably should have reported it and then tried to figure it out" and they "really dropped the ball." The motion alleges John Daugherty told police he knew about the rape as early as August 19th.
The Daugherty's motion to dismiss alleges the crimes committed in this case were not crimes that the defendants were required to report. Local rape counselor Lori Gonzalez says all adults have an obligation to report any kind of child abuse as soon as they learn about it.
"I think it is our job as an adult to protect kids to the fullest, if that means taking steps in a position that's not comfortable, that means taking those steps," she said.
The D.A.'s office found, "The defendants’ arguments flies in the face of both common sense and common decency” saying, "Our legislature mandates that a report be made any time there is reason to believe that a child under the age of 18 years is a victim of abuse or neglect.”
The motion argues because the crimes were not perpetrated by a 'person responsible for the care' of the victims they do not constitute abuse. The D.A.'s office claims, “at that moment in time, each adult who was employed by the church and/or participating with the youth program became a temporary custodian to the minor girls."
The motion filed Wednesday also reveals that Denman was fired by the church but told he could return to the campus for church services, "(On August 24th) Denman was told that what he had done was against the law. Denman was also told that his employment was terminated but that he could return to church property for the purpose of attending church services."
Gonzalez told FOX23 that a victim seeing her attacker at the scene of the crime could be "catastrophic."
"It could be very triggering. It might cause anxiety panic attacks," Gonzalez said.
The attorney for John and Charica Daugherty, Jason Robertson, told FOX23, "There is a lot of shock value in the prosecution's response, but not a lot of legal analysis. I will be filing a response in the next ten days."
The five staffers were suspended by Victory Christian Center, but have now all returned to work.
The Daughertys, Willemstein and George are due back in court Nov. 19. Prosecutors say Sullivan's hearing was reset to Dec. 12.
Chris Denman is scheduled to be sentenced on December 12th.